Where the hell is M9?
The ninth day of the experiment, T9, started with promising sunshine and blue skies. The biggest part of the sampling team hopped on to Plocan 1, a speed boat of the PLOCAN institute (Plataforma Oceánica de Canarias) which is mainly used for the transport of people and equipment to PLOCAN’s oceanic platform. The captain and his first mate know the winds and currents around Taliarte harbor like the back of their hands. They brought us to the experimental site at Gando Bay, where our nine mesocosms are deployed, in no time. Being a marine scientists has its advantages - being transferred to a study site by a speed boat certainly is one of them.
When the mesocosms came in sight I unconsciously started counting them. One, two, three, four, … eight. ‘Where is number nine?’, I wondered. Probably hidden behind one of the others. Okay, one more time. One, two, three, … eight. Hmm. Still hidden? ‘It must be there somewhere’, I said to myself. ‘Don’t panic yet, you’re probably just a bit blind.’ I repeated the counting procedure several times as the boat was approaching the site. Every single time I counted eight mesocosms. Not seven, not nine, but eight. I scanned the surface for any signs of one more of these bright orange structures, but could not find one. Finally, it appeared as we further circled the study site: the orange floating devices were almost fully under water, as well as the plastic bag that usually encloses the water and separates it from the surrounding Atlantic water.
Well, no more separation for mesocosm 9. It turned out that one of the floatation devices of M9 had been damaged the day before and the whole thing had partly drowned during the night. As a result, the mesocosm water had thoroughly mixed with Atlantic water. Not a tragic incident, but certainly an unlucky one. What surprised me was the reaction of those people from the sampling team, who had already been on a couple of KOSMOS experiments. They remained calm (while I was super excited), notified the technical team, and started the sampling of the remaining eight mesocosms as usual. The professionality with which the whole team dealt with the situation made quite an impression on me. It took only a couple of hours until the technical team had M9 securely at the surface again. They sent the following picture as proof with the caption ‘Resurección!’.